I’ve come to understand that we are all seeking freedom. Yet we are the ones who imprison ourselves by how we view and respond to the Universe.
Remember the old Mayberry show? Otis, the drunk, would stumble into the sheriff’s office, into the jail cell and lock it behind himself. The key was always hanging on the wall, just outside his cell. He could reach it anytime he wanted, but he always waited until he sobered up. Then all he had to do was reach outside the cell, grab the key, unlock the cell door and walk out.
What a metaphor for our daily lives!
Some of the ways we imprison ourselves include (but are not limited to): limiting our beliefs about ourselves and what we can/cannot do, stories we make up in our heads about what others think of us, hanging on to resentments, refusing to hear others’ perspectives, thinking we know all there is to know about a situation or a topic, allowing negative thoughts to gain weight in our minds – about ourselves, our situation and others. The list is endless.
Much of our imprisonment revolves around our need for perfection. Perfection is such a limiting word. It implies that if something is not perfect, it must be imperfect. Perfection is really just an opinion. My concept of what’s perfect might be totally different than what you see as perfect. In reality, perfection comes when we can allow things (and people) to be what they are. So perfection is a state of mind that keeps us imprisoned.
But, just like with Otis, THE KEY IS WITHIN REACH!
We think everything we want is outside where we are and unreachable. But it’s already here, right within reach. We just have to recognize how to “sober up” and do what we need to do to get there.
We stay inside our heads (our jail cell) with obsessions about how to please others so we can belong. Or we beat ourselves up with rigid, shameful thoughts of things we should or shouldn’t have done.
Letting go of rules, “supposed to’s,” and ideas that limit us and others is one way to free ourselves.
Letting go of expectations of ourselves and others is another way.
Acceptance of what is – and allowing situations and people to be what they are is another.
Another way to say all of the above is FORGIVENESS. Forgiveness of others – and perhaps even more importantly, self forgiveness. When we can learn to be more compassionate with ourselves, we’ll be so with others.
Wayne Dyer often asks his audience what they get when they squeeze an orange. Of course, they say orange juice. And he responds with “yes, because that’s what’s inside”. Then he asks what they get when they “squeeze” (or put pressure on) a person. Again, it’s what’s inside. If what’s inside us is anger or rigid expectations, that’s what will come out when we’re under pressure or have expectations that limit us to only one outcome. But if we find compassion, love and forgiveness inside, that’s what will come out when we are put to the test.
So once we “sober up” as Otis did, and become more open to viewing our world from other perspectives, all we have to do is reach for that key, unlock the cell with loving, forgiving, compassionate thoughts, and walk out – into freedom.